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How are buildings and the construction industry changing in response to climate change?

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The levels of atmospheric CO2 are rising year on year and climate change couldn’t be further at the front of people’s minds. With the sheer scale and use of resources in the construction industry, there lies a responsibility to be more and more efficient with how they are used. At Zussman Bear, we are always adapting to use the latest technology and best practise to ensure that we do not aid the problem of climate change.

Globally, the construction industry accounts for 25% of GHG emissions and so it’s vital to adapt to make the structural process more efficient, along with the buildings themselves.

Resilient designs have come about with the increasing focus and fear of climate change, this is where the structural engineers construct with extreme conditions in mind. For example, implementing designs geared to fight flood risks due to the rising sea levels and the increase in bad weather.

A bigger issue in cities is urban heat island (UHI) caused by an increased number of dark surfaces, a lack of vegetation, and the ability of light to reflect off of and absorb into more surfaces in cities with tall buildings, making things hotter and thus the use of air conditioning systems rise. With this in mind, structural design can include white and other light colours or reflective materials.

What are the most sustainable building materials?

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As time goes on the focus and need for sustainable materials in the building and structural engineering world grows.

The responsibility lies with everyone who is in the trade and so we’ve identified four sustainable building materials that can be used in the future.

Solar Tiles are a great alternative to the traditional concrete or clay. While they protect the building from the elements much like the standard tiles, they also absorb power from the sun.

This power can be harnessed and used which saves you money in the long run, along with being environmentally friendly.

Upping the efficiency of your windows is another option to improve your carbon footprint. This can include moving to double glazing or even triple with three panes of glass.

The super-efficient windows use full-insulated frames to prevent as much heat loss as possible. Further to this, instead of argon, they inject krypton between each pane of glass which is a much better insulator.

Looking for alternatives to traditional bricks is another great way of saving energy and can even improve your structure. Wool bricks are 37% stronger than their traditional counterparts and are made by adding wool and a natural polymer found in seaweeds to the clay of the bricks.

The process in making them doesn’t require you to fire it to make them dry unlike normal bricks and so this makes them much more sustainable and saves you energy in the long run.

Finally, concrete is one of the most used building materials in the construction industry and represents up to 10% of Co2 emissions,  so seeking an alternative to this would prove a very efficient option.

For example, Timbercrete is a mixture of sawdust and concrete and although it is lighter than solid concrete, it is a much better insulation option.

To see more about the structural engineering industry, head over to our website and contact us with any questions you may have!

Recent trends in structural engineering

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The world is and has always been constantly changing and growing around us. No other group of people feels the impact going on around us more severely than structural engineers.

Structural engineers are always having to tackle how to shape our lives and the structures that shelter us in order to meet the demands of our changing world. This demand gives way to new solutions, many of which catch on within the industry and develop into new yearly trends.

Transformation of funding and technique

2017 has bought some huge changes to the engineering field, especially in terms of how it’s performed at it’s most basic level. New innovations are allowing the process to be streamlined, creating new and better chances for collaboration between engineers and their teammates.

Construction builders now have access to better learning tools, creating higher amounts of specialised staff who are better able to help construct more safe and efficient buildings. Structural engineering services across the country are beginning to start taking place on green building by finding ways to reduce the energy consumption of new projects. All three innovations are designed to make the engineering process a little easier.

Modular construction

Modular construction is another new innovation to unfold recently, inspired by the need to put together buildings more quickly without sacrificing their integrity. Construction professionals put together buildings by stacking box units against each other. It’s an efficient process mostly reserved for commercial building projects, such as skyscrapers.

Sustainable materials

The road towards sustainability has yet to falter and has even paved the way to new materials that are starting to make waves within the industry! Structural engineers have designed technology to boost building safety, such as systems designed to detect seismic activity and the buildings reaction and resistance to it. Engineers have also come up with tools using 3D printing and concrete that can repair itself of any damage. Time will only tell what other forms of technology will arise in the next few years, but we believe the future is bright!

Make sure you look out for more structural engineering trends to rise this year as they are all beneficial! We hope to watch these trends continue and grow into the next year.

To see more about the structural engineering industry, head over to our website and contact us with any questions you may have!

What is the role of a structural engineer?

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Have you ever thought about the massive buildings that are around us or the people behind the making of these amazing structures? All this work is done by structural engineers.

These structural engineers design, create, solve problems, innovate by the use of maths and science to form the world we live in. The structures they build from, homes, theatres, sports stadiums, bridges, and more. They work alongside other highly trained professionals such as, architects and surveyors to ensure that all the buildings can stay up whatever the weather.

Structural engineers work in offices and on construction sites. Depending on the size of their project, they may also be required to work long hours – in teams consisting of professional, skilled and semi-skilled workers.

Structural engineers must have a strong understanding on physics, and creative problem solving. Outside of an ability to apply principles of mechanics, mathematics and physics to construct safe, sustainable buildings, the roles and responsibilities of structural engineers include:


Many structural engineers are involved in the design of the structures! This involves calculating the loads and stresses the construction will have to safely withstand. The structural engineers will be able to factor in the different qualities and strengths.


Before the work starts, structural engineers have to do an investigation and survey of build sites to see the suitability of the earth for the requirements of the upcoming project.


Structural engineers will be required to consult with other members on their projects, including engineers, scientists and architects.


Structural engineers are responsible for the organisation and delivery of materials and equipment for the needs of the construction project.


There are many safety issues involved in their work so structural engineers must be trained to strict standards. They require a related undergraduate degree in an engineering discipline. After graduation, structural engineers work towards professional qualifications.

Check out some of the buildings that we have designed for our clients or contact us today if you’re looking for some more advice or information.